“Have to do a better job” | Jazz Struggle On Defense, tumble to Detroit on Wednesday night

Despite an impressive offensive performance, Utah couldn’t string together enough stops defensively and fell 125-116 to Detroit on Wednesday night.

“I thought we played pretty good basketball in the second half,” said head coach Will Hardy. “As a team, I thought we got to where we are now by having a chip on our shoulders. … I don’t think we had that chip on our shoulders tonight.”

Despite the loss, it was a night to remember for Jordan Clarkson.

With a three-pointer midway through the third quarter, he moved up to fifth all-time in Jazz franchise history for three-pointers made. Ironically, he passed former teammate Bojan Bogdanovic, who had a great view of the shot while playing on the court for Detroit.

Overall, Clarkson finished with 24 points, three rebounds and two assists. He was particularly effective in the third quarter, finishing with nine points and keeping the Jazz afloat against the hot-shooting Pistons.

After his worst shooting performance of the season two nights ago, Malik Beasley insisted his routine would not change. He said his confidence would never waver as he believed the next shot would go in.

Beasley was sensational for the Jazz off the bench, finishing with a team-high 29 points on 8-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc. He added a career-high 11 rebounds and five assists – his first double-double of the season.

He was deadly, especially in the first half, scoring 17 points and single-handedly keeping the Jazz in the game. Whenever Utah needed a big bucket, Beasley wasn’t afraid to be the one to take it.

With Mike Conley still struggling with a left knee injury, Collin Sexton started for the second straight year. After a tough breakthrough on Monday, Sexton looked like a different player leading offense on Wednesday.

He finished with 17 points and a career-high 12 assists and shot 7 of 12 from the floor.

Despite playing in Denver last night, the Pistons came out with energy after taking an early 14-5 lead. But Beasley made an immediate impression, sparking an 18-6 Utah run with a layup just seconds after checking in.

With two leads, the Jazz couldn’t keep the momentum as Detroit ended the quarter on a 9-2 run – leading 30-25.

The start of the second belonged to Detroit, who extended their lead to 49-35 midway through the quarter. Utah responded with a 12-2 run as Clarkson caught fire, scoring seven points in that span. But once again the Jazz couldn’t keep up the momentum. Bojan Bogdanovic took over and scored nine points in a 13-4 run for the Pistons.

Utah was down 66-54 at halftime.

The halftime message seemed to work as Utah started the third on a 7-2 run, grabbing the momentum and igniting the crowd at Vivint Arena. It was short-lived, however, as Marvin Bagley was unstoppable for the Pistons and helped push the lead back to 13 midway through the third.

Although the offense remained elite for the rest of the quarter, the Jazz couldn’t string together enough defensive stops to take the lead. Two threes from Simone Fontecchio reduced the deficit to four, but Detroit rallied with a 4-0 run to end the quarter.

Utah was trailing 98-90 going into the final 12 minutes.

The fourth quarter was back and forth, but the jazz couldn’t equalize. Despite big shots from Lauri Markkanen, Beasley and Fontecchio, Detroit always had an answer.

After the Jazz drew within three, the Pistons responded with a 5-0 run. After Utah got it back to four, another 5-0 run gave Detroit a 110-101 lead with just under seven to play.

The Jazz reduced the deficit to three with just two minutes left and appeared to get the ball back on offense, but a no-call by the official gave Detroit the ball. Markkanen elbowed Detroit’s Jalen Duren in the face but no foul was called, which led to the Pistons’ possession and a three-pointer to follow.

“I thought the game was lost in the first half due to our lack of defensive energy. … I need to prepare our boys better,” Hardy said.

Markkanen finished the game with 13 points – all in the second half – and eight rebounds, while Fontecchio added ten points.

The Jazz have Thanksgiving off before returning to action for a brutal duel scheduled to begin Friday at the Golden State before heading to Phoenix on Saturday. Tipoff in the Bay Area is set for 8:00 p.m. MST.

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